tv Great Explorations BBC News May 29, 2017 12:30am-1:01am BST
nicola sturgeon, the snp's has governed scotland for ten years, so can we agree that the performance of scottish public services is the responsibility of you and the snp government? i take responsibility but the performances of public services but the overall budget is determined by decisions taken at westminster and the budget has been reduced since the conservatives have beenin reduced since the conservatives have been in office. let's start with the former head of policy for alex salmond. he said that we the smp have not closed the poverty gap, redistributed wealth or improved education. the sad truth is that anything we have done before to date has not worked. i don't agree with that assessment. let me take education, for example. we have more work to do on it but it's not true to say we have not true to say we have improved things in scotland. if
you look at the five qualification levels which are broadly equivalent to the standard grades in scotland. we have seen more young people achieve it, but we've seen the gap between rich and poor almost half. we've also seen the number of poor people who leave school with no qualifications halve as well, so there has been progress made, but i make no bones about the fact we need to seek more progress, which is why we have a major programme of reform under way in scottish education. we have a major programme of reform under way in scottish educationlj will under way in scottish education.” will go on to education and the details in a minute, but overall, the former head of policy for alex salmond calls it a lost decade. he isa salmond calls it a lost decade. he is a former head of policy and i don't agree with that assessment. it's a damning criticism from inside your own party. i don't accept the fa cts your own party. i don't accept the facts and figures bear out the assessment. we said we would come onto the education and i'm happy to do that. if you take health, we've increased our budget substantially. i would come onto health in a minute, but let's start with the
scottish economy because it is now growing at less than a quarter of the pace of the uk economy. it could be on the brink of recession. don't you think you should end your obsession with independence and start generating some growth in scotland? let me take the facts and figures on the economy. we have seen growth as a whole. you are way behind the uk. we've also had the issues and problems with north sea oil and gas which has fed through the scottish supply chain, but if you look at the gd performance in scotla nd you look at the gd performance in scotland and the recovery, the recovery has been stronger than the uk. the unemployment is now lower than in the uk and we have seen productivity increase at a faster rate than the rest of the uk. as an education and health, i'm not sitting here in saying there's not a big job of work for the snp to do, but your assessment that in everything you want to point to their is no progress is flatly wrong. it was mr bell who pointed to
that, not me. on the scottish economy, last year the uk economy overall grew by almost 2%, but the scottish economy grew by less than half a percent. that's a terrible record. you know as well as i do that the difficulties that have been experienced to have a disproportionally heavy effect on oil and gas because of the importance of that sector, that has been one of the reasons why we have seen been one of the reasons why we have seen a been one of the reasons why we have seen a difference in performance but ifi seen a difference in performance but if i look at the recovery of gdp in scotla nd if i look at the recovery of gdp in scotland from prerecession levels, 1.8% higher, and less than that in the rest of the uk, and employment is doing well. unemployment is low, outperforming the uk in youth employment. i am working very hard with the scottish government to show it's not the case, but for the uk gdp, at the end of the week that showed there is also a slowing of growth because of the brexit effect, and scotland is not immune from the impact of that vote. why would the
brexit effect have a bigger effect on scotland than the rest of the uk? it's not had an effect on british growth. i wasn't saying brexit had a big impact, iwas growth. i wasn't saying brexit had a big impact, i was saying that the reason for the different performance in the scottish economy is the difficulty in the oil and gas sector. so it's not brexit? if you listen, it's no greater than the rest of the uk. your finance minister, mr macari, he blamed the economic reality of brexit? that my view is there is an effect on the sterling effects. i don't understand why brexit was a disproportionally bad effect on scotland? that is what your finance bad effect on scotland? that is what yourfinance minister said. bad effect on scotland? that is what your finance minister said. you are putting something to me that i haven't argued. 2017, and he
reflected the economic reality of brexit. whether it's on the gdp from previous terms and whether it's on productivity, i will give you another indicator, and we had the latest eu wide report showing for the fifth year in a row that scotla nd the fifth year in a row that scotland is the best performing part of the uk outside of london and the south—east. when it comes to our and the investment, it's the best bar one part of the uk. we see foreign investment projects coming to scotla nd investment projects coming to scotland so there's to be confident about. let's go on to education. and it's been clear for some time that scottish education has real problems. there are real declines in literacy and numeracy. we are plummeting down global league tables. i can point to another
indicator is that shows scottish improvement and a narrowing of the attainment gap. level five qualifications, not only we will see more qualifications achieved and the gap between richest and poorest. that's mostly because the top 20% are doing so well, not the bottom 20%. that is factually not true. the authoritative global survey showed the highest achievers in scotland we re the highest achievers in scotland were in decline, going from 8.8%, down to 7%. scottish education measures not just down to 7%. scottish education measures notjust the quality of qualifications, not the number, but the quality as well. the top 20% as improved by about 9% but the performance of the bottom 20% has improved by 26% and we also have more young people, including poorer
young people going to university than before. i say that because of the context is that i am very frank about the fact that i want to seek further improvement in scottish education which is why we have a national improvement framework and we have established and attainment fund. headteacher stopped me in the street to talk about what he described as the life changing impact of the new equal equity fact —— fund we introduced. there is progress to be positive about that there is work to do. there is not progress on what matters, which is reading, mathematics, science. in 2006, since 2006 on the main international study, scotland has dropped from 11th to 23rd in reading, iith dropped from 11th to 23rd in reading, 11th to 24th in maths, tenth to 19th in science. that is a terrible performance. those statistics are from two years ago andi statistics are from two years ago and i have recognised those they predate the reform programme that we have put in place. i do think it
matters we are not improving where it matters you say, but the qualifications that young people coming out of school with do matter and we see more young people coming out with highers and advanced highers. we see more young people going to university and we see the positive destinations of young people continuing to increase. remember, the record of the snp scottish government was assessed by the scottish people in the scottish parliament election last year and we won that election with a higher number of constituency vote than any in the scottish parliament lifetime. on top of the international study, your own official body on literary and numeracy came out with damning figures about what was happening there. if you count the literacy and numeracy rates, i don't know what you can get right? your response, to the scottish survey of numeracy and literacy. it is a survey we carry out, not an organisation. but you closed it down. it is a sample
survey based on information on secondary schools, but what we are replacing it with his comprehensive data broken down notjust by local authorities, but school by school. the survey was highly regarded. wasn't it? as first minister it doesn't tell me anything about the performance of individual schools. i'm replacing it with something that will give us not just i'm replacing it with something that will give us notjust data on everyone. will you publish a standardised assessment? for each school we will publish the information on pupils that meeting the required levels of the curriculum. so the ssln... i want to come back to a point on ssln because it's important here. which is the survey
on literacy and numeracy. yes. but i want to come back to that... take the performance of young people at s2, which is where the decline in reading was recorded. that is measuring s2, second year of secondary school pupils, against the standards they are supposed to meet at the end of the third year of secondary school. we have separate data that shows that by the time those s2 pupils come out of third year, more than 80% of them are meeting the required standards. now, i'm not suggesting we shouldn't pay a lot of attention to that survey, but what i'm showing is there's a lot of other data in scottish education which sort of tells a different story from the one you're trying to tell me right now. except that this survey provided a benchmark and the results were not kind to your policies and you've closed it down, you won't do it again. you shot the messenger. other global studies have shown scottish schools in relative decline. you pulled out of them, too. you pulled out of two major studies. firstly, you've just sat and quoted an international global study to me, the pisa study, which scottish education is part of. but you pulled out of two others that were global studies, too. well, we wanted to focus on making sure we got the information that gave us the best picture of how scottish education was performing.
but i have to say, it's an absolute travesty for you to sit here and say to me that in somehow moving from ssln... if you look at the methodological notes at the end of ssln, it tells you that that survey is based on something like four pupils per primary school and i2 pupils per secondary school. what we are doing is replacing that sample survey that tells you nothing about local authority performance, it tells you nothing about individual school performance, with comprehensive data. all right. no, you don't want to hear this? no, no, i do want to hear. all i'm saying is that this was a highly regarded survey that you are now closing down. and the results were not published. we are going to be publishing data on every school. i will be much more accountable as a result of the more comprehensive data we're publishing. the government will be more accountable, local authorities will be more accountable, and we will absolutely be able to track the benefits and the performance of schools, based on the interventions we're now making. the snp‘s great boast is that students don't pay tuition fees tuition fees in scotland, if you're scottish. you claim it improves social mobility.
so why is it twice as hard for a scottish kid from a deprived background to get to university than an english kid from a deprived background? well, firstly, we're seeing record numbers of scottish young people going to university. that's true in england too. ok, but including record numbers of young people from the most deprived backgrounds. still twice as hard. well, the second point, which i'm sure is one that you're well aware of, is the figures don't reflect what is a very important difference between how young people in scotland and england access higher education. a much larger proportion of young people in scotland do higher education and further education colleges, so what you've just quoted me there doesn't take account of that. but what i'm talking about is universities. sure, but higher education... i think the figure... well, correct me if i'm wrong, i think the figure you've probably quoted there is about access to higher education. no, the figure is from people going from school to university, from poorer backgrounds,
and it's almost twice as tough in scotland from a poorer background than from england. the point is, a lot people do higher—education courses in further—education colleges... and then go to university? well, some of them do, some of them don't. right, but i'm talking about universities. look, i think it is accepted there is a difference in how these figures are gathered. not by much. i looked at this because you've said this before. by and large, the figures of when you leave school to go to university are comparable for scotland and england and they show that it's twice as tough if you're a poor kid in scotland. we're seeing increases in the number of young people from the poorest backgrounds going to university, that's why we've established a widening access commission that is looking at how we make further progress. we're the only part of the uk i think still, today, that has legislated, in terms of fair access to university. we've set targets for equal access by 2030. we're funding protected places at university... only one in 12 at our top universities in scotland are from poor backgrounds. well, again, you keep sort of changing the parameters of this. no, i've just stuck to universities. well, you said ‘top universities', that's not all universities, so you keep changing. well, one in 12 at the top, then. look, are young people from poor backgrounds underrepresented
in our universities? yes. but we are seeing that improve and we have in train a programme of work to improve it further. why did you cut maintenance grants for poorer students? we have got the best package of student support of any of the uk nations. it's a combination of grants and loans. in england, of course, bursaries, grants, are being abolished completely. and you cut the grants? in the last couple of years, we have increased the value of the grant proportion and have increased the income threshold at which young people qualify for the maximum grant. but what we did was establish a minimum income guarantee for students, which is, yes, a combination of grants and loans, but we are protecting the continuation of grants as part of that. in england, grants, bursaries, have completely been abolished. but grants in scotland are lower than they were. yes, because we introduced... and grants are what matter to working—class kids. they need them to support themselves through university. which is why in scotland
we are not abolishing them like is the case in england. you have just cut them. but also in terms of student debt, we have the lowest average student debt of any of the nations of the uk. andrew, the point i'm making to you here, is that i don't sit here and say we are perfect, and i don't sit here and say that we don't have challenges to face and work to do to face them, but what i will defend is the progress we are making, and also on things like student debt and student grants, we are actually further advanced in many of these respects than any other part of the uk. let me move on to health. you're always railing against what you call tory austerity. so why did your members of the scottish parliament vote against increasing nurses‘ pay? i've set out our position. as is the case across the uk, we have a i% pay cap across the public sector. and you voted to sustain that. can ijust explain the position we are in and the action we have taken and what i think needs to happen in the future? we have had that pay cap to try to protectjobs and make sure
that we could support a policy of no compulsory redundancies in our nhs. again, a policy that other parts of the uk don't have. no nurses have been made redundant in england and wales. 12,000 nhs staff have been made redundant. yes, but not nurses. there have been redundancies across the nhs. but not nurses. i would have to double check that, but i think you might be wrong on that point. we have a policy of no compulsory redundancies. we have also done two other things. let me finish this point, because it's important. we have done two other things that haven't been done in other parts of the uk. we have given bigger increases to those at the lowest end of the income scale. and we have also protected what's called progression as people move through the pay scales. that hasn't happened in other parts of the uk. so if you are a newly qualified nurse in scotland, you are actually paid more than you are in any other part of the united kingdom. that pay cap has been in place for reasons i don't enjoy having to accept. and you could have changed it? what i'm saying now is that if we had changed it, we would have seen pressure in other
ways, in jobs, for example. but we have sought to protect the lowest income people for that. so if you are a nurse, you are paid more in scotland than you are in england. but not by that much. if you are a registered staff nurse in scotland on a 12 hour shift, you will end up with under £2 less in a 12 hour shift than an english nurse. it's not huge. if you are a newly qualified nurse it's about boo-£400 per year better off. for registered staff nurses. if you are at the lowest level of agenda for change, not a nurse, agenda for change, it's more than that, about £1000. i'm making that point to say we have taken action where we can. to finish the point about the future — i have been very clear that as inflation starts to increase, because this pay cap has also been in place and it's not been easy for anybody in the public sector, but it's been in place in times of reasonably low inflation. and you voted to sustain it for another year. there was a simplistic motion. and actually we are about to go into negotiations for the next financial year. i have been very clear in our
manifesto, which we will publish on tuesday where we will say more about this, at times of rising inflation, i don't believe pay caps of that nature will continue to be sustainable, so we will set out how to ensure in the future.... so you will change the pay cap in the future? let me publish the manifesto on tuesday. but i think if you listen to what i'm saying, you will get a clear hint that we need to have pay deals in the future that are both affordable but recognise the cost of living pressures that public sector workers are working under. we will continue to do what uk governments haven't done in terms of the nhs, and always accept the recommendations of the pay review body. if you do well in this general election, will you use that to strengthen the case for a second independence referendum? this election — we put in our manifesto for the scottish election last year the idea that scotland should have a choice at the end — if there was a vote for brexit — that scotland should have a choice. so what this election does, i suppose, is determine whether the people of scotland think that whether and when scotland should have a choice about ourfuture, should be a decision for the scottish parliament orfor a uk prime minister. so it will strengthen the case if you do well? we have got that mandate already and it will underline
and reinforce that mandate. but this election will not decide whether or not scotland becomes independent. no, of course not. but you called for a second referendum because of brexit. you said scotland was being dragged out of the eu against its will. so can you confirm that an independent scotland would immediately apply for full membership of the eu? i would want an independent scotland to be a member of the eu. but would it apply for full membership? well, yes, we would want to be a full member of the eu. you wouldn't settle for an interim deal or just being in the single market? again, can i set this out? we tried to find compromise ground with the prime minister, whereby we would accept we were coming out of the eu, but we would see if we would keep the whole of the uk, and if not that then scotland, in the single market. but you're talking here in the context of independence. let me set out clearly, i would want scotland to be a member of the eu. if, and it is an if, because i don't control the brexit process and i can't foresee exactly how that will unfold, if scotland had already been taken out of the eu and there was a period in which we had to get back into the eu, if it was necessary, then we would want to protect our single market membership in the interim.
so there could be an interim arrangement? if that was necessary, but the objective would be, and we have heard people and voices within the commission, the deputy chancellor of germany, the senior european parliamentarians talk about the fact it would not be a complicated process for scotland to become a member of the eu if we were independent. but that's if we are independent. i think in this election — because i want scotland to have a choice, not now, but at the end of the brexit processed when the options are clear. this election will give scotland another opportunity. it gives us the opportunity to have our voice heard generally in the house of commons but specifically in terms of the brexit negotiations, so we can try to make sure that there's not a deal that is bad for scotland. the prime minister says that there will not be a second referendum on your timetable. if she wins and sticks to that, what will you do? let's give the people of scotland the chance to have their say in this election onjune the 8th. this has been a long...
and you have covered scottish politics for a long time, i was going to say probably longer than i've been alive, but that would upset you midway through an interview which probably isn't a good idea! not really, i'd just like you to answer the question. what would you do if the prime minister does not grant you a referendum? i think that if the snp win the election onjune 8th in scotland — and i take nothing for granted — but if the snp win the election, having won the scottish election last year on the strength of a manifesto commitment that was very clear, and in the interim the scottish parliament having backed that, then i think that position of the prime minister is unsustainable. but if she doesn't change, what will you do? i'm not going to sit here... we have an election in ten days' time — i'm not going to sit here and speculate about that. the truth is, there's not much you can do, is there? i think in politics positions quickly become unsustainable. we have seen in the last few days — and you highlighted this in your interview with her — that this is not a prime minister who is very good at holding position when she feels it's under pressure. she's a prime minister
who has seemed to perfect the art of the u—turn. let me come onto brexit. you say that a vote for the snp will strengthen your hand in the brexit talks. you are not in the brexit talks. you know what, we should be. but you're not. and so should wales and so should northern ireland. but you're not. but again, the prime minister has brought about this election. that gives the people of scotland the opportunity, and i'm saying to people in scotland, whether you voted leave or remain, whether you voted yes or no in 2014, this is an opportunity to strengthen scotland's voice in these brexit talks and strengthen the influence we have in terms of the positions the uk government takes. but mrs may doesn't want you in the talks, and mr barnier, the lead eu negotiator, doesn't want you in the talks. i think in terms of the prime minister's position, and ruth davidson, the scottish tory leader, said not that long ago that she thought scotland and the scottish government and me as first minister should be involved in deciding and shaping the uk position. so if the snp wins this election, it strengthens our hand. because the danger scotland faces
right now, and the danger in my view that the whole of the uk faces right now, is notjust brexit, but the extreme brexit that is being pursued by the tories that threatens tens of thousands of jobs in scotland. so on this, as on so many other things, if you want scotland's voice to be heard, if you want scotland's interest to the fore, rather than just tory mps who will rubber—stamp whatever theresa may wants, the only way to secure that is to vote snp. you complain that powers being sent back to london from brussels might not be passed on to edinburgh, but under your plan, any return of powers to edinburgh, you will then send back to brussels. it's a nonsensical grievance. these are issues that the people of scotland will scrutinise and debate if we are in another independence referendum. i believe scotland as an independent member state of the eu would have a much greater voice than we've had as a part of the uk over the years. theresa may is the one who wants to pursue brexit and wants to pursue a hard brexit. if that's what she's doing, then to use that as a process to centralise power in the uk, or, in areas that are under the scotland act devolved to the scottish parliament, i do think that would be unacceptable. but you would then send them back?
if we were in the eu, we would continue to cooperate on these things. then you would have to send them back. as an independent member state. but we would be representing scottish interest as a member state. let's be in no doubt here, what we have is a prime minister that seems to want to centralise powers, notjust from scotland, but wales and northern ireland as well, and i think it would be unacceptable to use brexit to do that. you would rather seejeremy corbyn than theresa may as prime minister? i don't want a tory prime minister. i don't want to see a tory government. so you would rather see mr corbyn? i don't particularly like looking at the state of uk politics just now and forming the conclusions. i don't thinkjeremy corbyn is credible as an alternative prime minister. it's got to be one or the other and i think you would rather see mr corbyn. i would actually rather see ultimately scotland be independent whoever emerges. of course, but that's not the choice, as you've said. i think, even with narrowing polls, i think it's highly likely that the tories are going to win this election, so what matters
for scotland is that we have the strongest possible voice. we know the damage tory governments do to scotland. if you found that your snp contingent in westminster was in a pivotal position, because perhaps mr corbyn wins, but perhaps not by much, or is only the largest party, would the snp work with mr corbyn to raise taxes to pay for more spending? we've got our own tax policies and we have put them forward already in terms of the taxes we control in scotland. uk—wide, would you work with mr corbyn to raise taxes? i don't agree with all jeremy corbyn's tax policies. we are getting into the realms of... and i understand why, so bear with me. it might be the result. i don't think it will be. if it is, will you work with mr corbyn on his tax and spend? we will work for progressive policies, and we will work for the policies we put forward in our manifesto. if there was to be a hung parliament, of course we would look to be part of a progressive alliance that pursued progressive policies.
but let's get back to the reality of this election. the reality of this election, even with the narrowing of the polls, is that we are going to face a tory government perhaps with a bigger majority. my priority in this election is to say to the people of scotland, if you want scotland's interests to be protected and our voice heard, then you've got to vote snp to make sure that's the case. voting tory delivers tory mps who will rubber—stamp theresa may. voting labour in scotland risks letting the tories in. one final thing on mr corbyn — he wants to raise corporation tax by a third. would you broadly agree with that? no. i don't agree right now with the proposition that we should reduce the headline rate of corporation tax, but i don't agree with that either. what i would like to see, and again my manifesto will say more about this on tuesday, i think we should be targeting support for businesses. given the productivity challenge we've got, i think we should be targeting support to encourage businesses to invest in plant and machinery and also to take on workers. we are in the final 30 seconds. mr salmond says the labour manifesto is actually an imitation of the snp programme in government. in some respects it is.
are you proud of that? i think it shows scotland is leading the way in progressive policies. so scotland is the first corbynista government? free tuition, scotland is leading the way in progressive policies across the uk. to answer your question directly, yes, i'm very proud of that. so you are proud of being a forerunner for mr corbyn? imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as you know. it is indeed. nicola sturgeon, thank you for being with us tonight on this interview. thank you. bank holiday monday will start on a
very humid note across the greater pa rt very humid note across the greater part of england and wales with temperatures around 1a or 16 degrees. a fresh start for scotland and northern ireland, some dry weather across the north, and make the most of it because the cloud and rain is on its way towards the north and as summer heat gets through across wales, the midlands, towards east anglia and it could put four or 5 degrees on the temperatures. if you see some sunshine, we might get thunderstorms, quite violent across the east and west midlands and tracking easterly through the evening. then somewhat drier conditions behind. tuesday sees us betwixt and between weather systems and then we will press the more westerly feature and quite a notable south—westerly wind, then into western scotland and the tail end of it gets down towards the north of england and wales. further south and east you could stay dry for the greater part of the day. goodbye. i'm sharanjit leyl in singapore. the headlines...
tokyo considers its response after another north korean missile lands in the sea ofjapan. 2000 civilians trapped in the city of marawi — as security forces battle an islamic state group in the philippines. nearly half a million people are forced from their homes, as the death toll from flooding in sri lanka rises to more than 150. a second day of chaos for passengers with british airways, as computer failures continue. live from our studios in singapore and london.